Tracey, Sarah and I flew to Athens on Friday afternoon. I happened to be sitting next to a young girl who is a missionary in Greece (she assumed that I was right out of college, God bless her!). Talking with her really made the time fly by. Only an hour and we were in Athens. Getting around was incredibly easy. The metro was super affordable and easy to manage. A lady at an information booth showed us the two lines to our hotel. The directions I got from booking.com said, "Go out of the Metro and you are at the hotel." Vague to say the least, but promising. Indeed, we went out of the metro and saw every hotel except Crystal City. Sarah, who has some conversational Greek, approached a man at a kiosk for directions. He started laughing and pointed over her shoulder. The directions on booking.com ought to read, "Go out of the metro. Walk 10 steps, turn right and you're there!"
We (the three of us) decided that it was of the utmost importance to squeeze in as much Greek food as possible over the course of a few days. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were our highest priorities. After checking into the hotel, we set out in search of our first meal. I LOVE Greek food. Olives, yogurt, grilled meat, pita bread...sigh. (I meant to buy a Greek cookbook before I left, but didn't. Silly me.) I really enjoyed the first restaurant we went to, although there was a pesky Brit who (we overheard most of his conversation) appeared to be cheating on his girlfriend with a Greek girl. Charming, oh so charming.
The three of us were walking in the shopping district after our first dinner. Almost simultaneously, Sarah and I screamed, "H&M!" at the top of our lungs. Seriously, you know you are in civilization when you are surrounded by good shopping! We made plans to shop 'til we dropped. All day Saturday was literally going into store after store after store. For all the time we spent in stores, I managed to just do damage at H&M. I kept reminding myself that I'll be home soon (where shopping is cheaper). Sarah and I were thrilled to be using our credit cards...
And this is Tracey after a long, long day of shopping...
Sunday was much like Saturday. We decided to explore the oldest flee market in Athens (or so the sign said). Sarah was on a hunt for boots and Tracey and I were keeping our eyes open for anything interesting. Well, we found interesting! We found what looked like an actual jewelers. I made the mistake of walking in. Actually, we all made that mistake. We were instantly greeted by a kindly gentleman who informed us that we were lucky enough to stumble into the "Embassy's" jewelery store. He had pictures with former first ladies, current ambassadors, and Greek dignitaries displayed around his shop. He, George, said that for us, he'd give us 30% off anything on the ground floor. His colleague entered and said, "No, no, for these girls give them 40% off all the silver." We had just a little bit of fun picking out beautiful jewelery to take home. All the while, the three of us were laughing and talking. George looked at us, a bit puzzled, and said, "No one ever smiles anymore, but you three have contagious smiles." Yep, that's us, at least when we are on vacation! George's colleague poured us ouzo after our transactions were complete. I heard it as "boozo" and was slightly confused. Anyhow, I really enjoy ouzo. Not surprising since I'm a black licorice fan!
After our second shopping adventure, we decided to do something educational and absolutely essential. My new friend from the plane had advised us to go to the Acropolis on Sunday, since it's free on that particular day. Of course, walking around looking at antiquity is amazing, but I felt a little under-educated. I know a lot about the Roman empire, but I think I slept through my Greek history. (This is an unusual feeling for me. Usually, I'm thanking my Westmont education and cheering the Liberal Arts).
Now we come to my other favorite part of my weekend in Athens. We walked out of the Acropolis straight to Areopagus (otherwise known as Mars Hill). This was the one place I was eager to experience. I couldn't wait to stand on the mound where one of the most breathtaking sermons was preached. My plan was to read Acts 17 on Mars Hill. "'In him we live and move and have our being.'"
So after two days of enjoying Athens, we flew back home to Tirana. I'm afraid I'm in holiday spirits and can't wait for Prague, then Santa Maria! I love traveling: the people you meet, the food you consume, the pretty things to look at (or buy), the ancient history, and often, the spiritual encounters.